Think above-ground pools are difficult to assemble and maintain? Think again.
Everybody loves an afternoon at the pool. Why not bring the experience to your own home? With the best above-ground pool, you can. Imagine the kids passing balls back and forth in the pool while you lounge with a cocktail, or imagine relaxing on your own floatie in the afternoon sun as the worries of the day melt away.
And that’s not just the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Easy-to-assemble and easy-to-maintain above-ground pools can provide hours of seasonal fun for the whole family.
After researching the best above-ground pools, we dove headfirst into the Bestway Power Steel Above Ground Swimming Pool Set with Pump as our top choice. Among the long list of things we liked about the pool is that it is sold in a broad range of sizes and it’s made from the best materials possible.
The Above-Ground Pools We RAVE About
There are also high-tech and innovative bonus features like a ChemConnect Dispenser and Seal & Lock assembly, helping to prevent corrosion. Keep reading to find out everything we liked about Bestway, and to compare it to other pools on the market.
But for now, we’ll say that if hours of fun in the warm weather without any headaches are what you’re after, choose Bestway and you won’t be sorry.
In this article, we’ll help you choose an above-ground pool, plus answer common questions from new pool owners. Questions like, how long will your new pool last, and how deep should your above-ground pool be? We’ll even cover how to prepare the space so setup and teardown are a cinch.
Ready to hit the pool? What you need to know about the best above-ground pools is coming up next.
If you’re not familiar with above-ground pools, you might be picturing one of those little plastic wading pools we all had when we were kids. How fun can that be for grown-ups? Will an above-ground pool be deep enough for the whole family? If not — is an above-ground pool worth it?
All good questions!
Before telling you about the best above-ground pools, let’s answer a few. We’ll start with how deep your above-ground pool can be.
How Deep Are Above-Ground Pools?
When researching the depth of an above-ground pool, the first thing to consider is wall height. Above-ground pools have three common wall heights: 48, 52, and 54 inches. That makes the depth of the pool right around 4 feet.
It’s important to remember, though, that the water won’t go all the way up to the edge of the pool. It usually stops above 6 inches from the top. For example, a 48-inch pool will only effectively have a water depth of about 3.5 feet. That depth is adequate for most purposes.
If you’re looking for something deeper — or for a pool that can accommodate multiple depths — some pools reach depths of 8 feet!
To get a pool this deep, you’ll need an expandable liner. Standard liners allow a pool to grow about a foot beyond the depth at the center of the pool. With an expandable liner, the pool can expand even further.
Just be sure to set the pool up on a gradual slope to accommodate the depth differential.
Other than depth, the size of the pool is the next important consideration. The answer to which pool size is best for you has everything to do with how you intend to use it.
In our next section, we’ll explain.
What Size Above-Ground Pool Do I Need?
Above-ground pools are either round or oval. Round pools provide more swimming space at a lower cost, so most families choose round pools. They are also a lot cheaper if you’re going to pay someone else to install your pool.
Otherwise, you should choose a pool size based on how you intend to use it. If you’re planning on swimming for exercise, you’ll want a pool that’s at least 27 feet if it’s round, or at least 15 by 30 feet if it’s oval.
The chart below covers additional factors to consider when choosing the size of your pool, for both round and oval pools.
Okay, so you’ve considered the depth and size of the pool. But how much is this all going to cost? And will pool maintenance be a headache?
Above-Ground Pool Maintenance and Cost
Here are some additional expenses to consider related to pool ownership beyond the initial cost of the pool, and possible labor costs for pool installation — which can be saved, of course, if you set it up yourself.
Basic pool maintenance equipment includes:
- A vacuum or brush
- A Net
All together, this costs on average about $7,000. To save money, consider a ring pool, many of which cost less than $500 and are very easy to install on your own.
Frame pools, on the other hand, come with a steel frame and a liner. They cost more, at least $2,000, but are more durable and some people choose to install the frame permanently in the ground, or even build a deck around the pool.
That all takes a professional and will cost extra money.
No matter which kind of pool you choose, you can also choose add-ons to your above-ground pool like slides and ladders. This will add cost. If you’re worried about maintenance, don’t be. While pools take some upkeep, it’s easier than you might think.
How Do You Maintain an Above-Ground Pool?
When it comes to pool maintenance, there are some expenses to be aware of.
On average, it can cost as much as $115 dollars a month to maintain an above-ground pool. That’s in addition to money spent on electricity and water, which can average from between $30 and $250 dollars a month.
Otherwise, here are some tips for keeping your pool clean and functioning properly:
Check the Chlorine Level
Pools should have a chlorine level between 2 and 4 parts per million
Weekly Shock Treatments
Use a shock treatment once a week to kill bacteria, algae, and other contaminants.
Run the Pump at Least Eight Hours a Day (With a Clean Filter)
Moving water grows algae less easily; just make sure you change the filter regularly.
There are additional steps to maintaining a pool, but for now, we’ll move on to why we’re here: coming up next are the 10 best above-ground pools.
In our ranking, we sought pools with the best balance of what’s important to have in an above-ground pool, such as:
- Size options
- Quality construction materials
- Accessories included with purchase
- Frame style
- Ease of assembly
- Customer support
With these criteria in mind, we feel confident that you’ll find a pool that suits your purposes. We had fun researching this list, and we can’t wait to share it with you. So let’s get started.
The Best Above-Ground Pools
Bestway Power Steel Above Ground Swimming Pool Set with Pump
Without a doubt, the Bestway Power Steel above-ground pool is the best in our ranking. It’s available in three size options, ranging from 16” to 18″. So when it comes to Bestway, there’s a pool option for everyone.
This pool also scored high marks for durability, with a corrosion-resistant metal frame and heavy-duty PVC and polyester three-ply side walls. Those walls are constructed with Tritech, a polyester mesh core encased between two layers of high-gauge PVC. This material stands up especially well under UV light.
Also, the ChemConnect Dispenser included with purchase is not to be missed. It helps maintain clean, healthy pool water through steady chlorine levels and the proper balance of chemicals. The pool’s Seal & Lock system helps prevent corrosion.
For convenience, there’s a built-in flow control drain valve: Just attach a garden hose to drain away the water. Maybe best of all, the hose adapter is included with purchase. Also included in the package is an antimicrobial filter cartridge, a pool ladder, and a pool cover.
An estimated two or three people are required to set up the pool, but no tools are required for assembly — bonus!
- Video instructions
- ChemConnect Dispenser
- Tritech construction
- Many reviewers buy a bigger pump
Intex 26339EH Ultra XTR Set Above-Ground Pool
The Intex Ultra XTR set is the second pool in our ranking. Among the many things we liked about this highly rated pool is the frame, made from high-quality galvanized steel, with a precision-engineered locking system. And with the Ultra XTR, rust is of no concern due to the frame’s inner and outer powdered coating.
The pool holds just about 12,000 gallons of water and several size options are available. Included with purchase is a sand filter pump (moving 2,800 gallons of water per hour), a pool ladder, ground cloth, and cover — an added bonus since few other pools include the cover with purchase.
The liner is made from durable, puncture-resistant three-ply material. The removable ladder boasts high-impact slip resistant steps, designed specifically for the 52-inch pool wall and with a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds.
Some reports say the pool easily accommodates a family of seven and is even big enough for swimming lessons. Site preparation is extra important due to the size of this pool.
- Pump is beyond efficient
- Easy, two-person setup
- Rope-tie debris cover
- Heavy pool liner
- Takes a long time to fill up
Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve 24′ Round Above Ground Swimming Pool
Next up is the 24-foot round above-ground swimming pool from Lake Effect. We like that this pool comes in a broad range of sizes, from 12 to 30 feet — that’s big!
Otherwise, this pool also has a sturdy, hot-dip galvanized steel wall, and the copper-bearing steel wall is resin coated both inside and outside to protect against rusting.
The pool is also aesthetically pleasing, with a bedrock-pattern liner that’s hand-folded. This helps minimize creases and wrinkling (a common problem for above-ground pools), makes setup a cinch, and keeps the pool in good shape. There are also exact-fit components to prevent corrosion over time.
The interlocking stabilizer rails and coping strips fit tightly over the liner and the top of the pool wall, keeping the bedrock liner in place. It’s all held together with stainless-steel fasteners. And, included with purchase is a widemouth skimmer to keep the pool clean. There is no pump or other accessories included with purchase, however.
It is important to know this pool is not meant to be set up seasonally, so be prepared to leave it up all year long and do the work needed to winterize the pool. We also like that this pool is available in a few different designs and styles.
Wall height varies between 48 and 52 inches, depending on the color and pattern. Happy customers say they love this pool, that it’s easy to put up, and the liner is prettier than they expected.
- Great customer service support
- Very simple installation
- CD and video instructions
- Liner could be bigger
- Some instructions are confusing
Power Steel 16′ x 48″ Frame Pool Set
The next pool in our ranking is the Power Steel 16 feet by 48 inches pool set. Keeping the legs of a pool frame securely planted in the ground can be a challenge, so we liked the reinforced rope wraps Power Steel offers. Located around the bottom of the pool liner, these wraps help keep the pool legs firmly in place for hours of fun.
Otherwise, the pool has a heavy-duty steel frame and comes in three additional size options: 14 feet by 48 inches and 18 feet by 4.3 feet. The side walls are made from strong, tri-layer material called TriTech — just what you want to see your pool walls made from.
Also not to be missed is the flow control drain valve, making draining the pool simple and easy once it’s time to put it away for the year. Included with purchase is a 1,000-gallon filter pump with an antimicrobial filter cartridge, a ground cloth, and a pool cover.
Those who’ve enjoyed this pool daily say it easily handles four adults with no structural integrity issues. Others call it super easy to set up and a perfect fit for a small backyard.
- Sturdy legs, compared to PVC
- Easy setup
- Sturdy ladder
- Weak pump, many report
- Some don’t receive pool cover
Intex Easy Set Pool Set
The next pool in our ranking is the Easy Set Pool Set from Intex, a leading brand in the market for all things related to backyard pools.
Almost as much as the pool, what we liked most about this 15 feet by 48 inch pool is that it comes with everything you need to get started: a filter pump, ladder, ground cloth, and pool cover. There’s only one size option, though.
Without a frame, the pool is also super easy to set up. Simply find a level bit of ground, spread out the pool, inflate the top ring, and fill it with water — for most people, that all takes less than 15 minutes! Other bonuses include super durable laminated PVC side walls and a drain plug that conveniently connects to a garden hose when it’s time to fill or drain the pool.
Don’t miss the ground fault interrupter, which shuts off the pump automatically when it comes in contact with the water — safety first!
Those who’ve purchased this well-reviewed pool report that it’s easy to set up on less than even ground, calling the pool bigger and better than they expected and well worth the money.
- Nice and sturdy ladder
- New dual-suction outlet
- Replacement parts available
- Issues keeping ring inflated
- Some pumps had to be replaced
- Difficult to eliminate wrinkles
Avenlur Stainless Steel Above Ground Swimming Pool
The best cheap above-ground swimming pool in our ranking comes from Avenlur. In one size only, there’s a sturdy PVC frame with a rust- and corrosion-resistant coating. This coating helps protect against UV and abrasion damage.
The walls of this 10- by 30-foot pool are even more stable than other PVC options. That’s due to the three-ply PVC support band that runs the perimeter of the pool.
Otherwise, the pool holds about 1,200 gallons of water and is tear-resistant, holding up well under UV light. Although there’s no filter or pump included with purchase, there is a flow-controlled drain valve, and no tools are required for assembly.
Reviewers that are happy with this pool comment that it’s easy to assemble. It holds about six adults and children — or four to five adults only — but the kids love it.
- Good for toddlers, supervised
- Rust/corrosion-resistant coating
- Three-ply PVC support band
- No filter or pump
- No steel frame
- No accessories
Pugmilia Inflatable Swimming Pools for Kids
Taking top honors in the category of best inflatable swimming pool for kids is the 10-foot pool from Pugmilia. An electric pump comes included, and setup is easy, inflating in a matter of minutes. With this pool, there’s no exterior frame to assemble; just attach the air outlet of the pump to the air inlet of the swimming pool and you’re in business.
This well-reviewed pool earns high marks for durability, as well. It’s made from high-quality PVC material — stuff that’s known for being tear-resistant and resisting any discoloration or fading over time. Otherwise, the pool measures 10 feet by 30 inches and holds just a little less than 1,000 gallons of water.
It doesn’t come with its own pump, however, but it does come with a waterproof patch just in case, as well as instructions for assembly. In addition to being a great choice for kids, this pool is affordable and a good choice for small spaces.
Those who’ve tried this pool say it works well in a small backyard and that it comes in a compact box and unfolds easily.
- No exterior frame
- Quick setup
- Affordable price
- No pump included
- Water treatment sold separately
- No accessories
Summer Waves Round Above-Ground Swimming Pool
What caught our attention about the next above-ground pool in our ranking from Summer Waves is the construction. This regular-frame, round, above-ground swimming pool is made from tough, triple-layer polyester mesh and heavy-gauge PVC material.
There’s also a nice slate-gray exterior, available in wicker and herringbone patterns — pretty unique among above-ground pools. It holds up to 4,000 gallons of water, measuring 14 feet by 48 inches.
The goodies included with this pool also set it apart, including a step ladder and skimmer pump, and a type-D filter cartridge with chlorinator. The Sure-Step ladder attaches securely to the side wall so you won’t slip getting in and out of the pool repeatedly over the summer months.
The SFX1000 Filter Pump also attaches to the wall, making maintenance easy and keeping well away from the feet of happy pool-users. The pool holds up to 10 people without feeling crowded.
Overall, the pump works well, though some report upgrading to a more powerful pump over time. The product says setup should take about an hour, though many get it done in about a half hour.
- Thick liner
- Instructions included
- Rust-resistant steel frame
- Some upgrade pump
- Tubes not oval but circular
- Vacuum adapter not included
Cornelius Aquarian Phoenix Round Steel Frame Above-Ground Swimming Pool
The next pool we want to tell you about is the Aquarian Phoenix, a well-reviewed, round, steel frame, above-ground swimming pool from Cornelius.
With an 18-foot diameter and measuring 52 inches deep, this pool offers steel construction and a sharp, marble wall design for visual appeal. It’s important to note, however, that you’ll have to buy the liner, pump, and skimmer separately.
Nevertheless, satisfied customers say the pool is easy for two people to install, it’s very sturdy, and it looks great in a yard. Some also report missing parts in shipping, but that customer service helped address all their issues.
And like the manufacturer claims, it really can be assembled with a simple household screwdriver. Like any pool, though, it’s important to get the ground level.
- Round pool
- Nice, big size
- Designed for active, family use
- Some ship without screws
- Missing parts
- Accessories sold separate
EPROSMIN Inflatable Ground Swimming Pool
Next up is the EPROSMIN inflatable above-ground swimming pool. With EPROSMIN, simple doesn’t mean low quality. The pool is a great choice for families, measuring 10 feet by 30 inches, and holds about 1,000 gallons of water. Up to six people fit comfortably in this pool.
Like any inflatable pool, setup is easy and an electric air pump is included with purchase. It’s constructed from high-quality, durable, and environmentally friendly PVC material.
It doesn’t come with a filter or pump, unfortunately, but happy pool-users call it sturdy and easy to set up, and say it inflates in minutes.
It’s important to store it safely during the colder months, however, but the valves are also strong and durable, customers say.
- Environmentally friendly PVC
- Fits up to six
- Perfect for families
- No frame
- Bigger pools available
- Accessories sold separately
How Do You Prepare for an Above-Ground Pool?
Pool assembly is really pretty easy, but there are a few things to do in advance to make the job go smoothly.
Identify the Area of Your Yard Where You Want to Set Up the Pool
That area should be level and away from power lines, water lines, septic systems, or other hazards commonly buried in yards.
Your pool should be about 10 feet away from your home or other structures, like a fence. Although, it’s a good idea to check with your town’s building codes, as they may vary.
Mark the Perimeter of the Pool Area
We recommend marking where you’d like the center of your pool to be with a metal stake. Using a string tied to the stake, measure to the pool’s edge — this will vary depending on the size of your pool, and it’s going to take some math to find the center point.
Be sure to add about an additional 6 inches. Now, tie a spray paint can to the string and walk the circumference, marking the edge of where the pool will be.
Clear the Area Where the Pool Will Be
The area where your pool will be needs to be free of all vegetation and debris and completely level. One way to level ground for a pool is to use a wood level.
To make a wood level, simply duct tape a carpenter’s level to a piece of wood that’s as long as your pool is wide. Otherwise, many people use sand to level out the bottom, create a secure base for the pool, and even out any uneven spots.
You don’t have to put sand under your pool, however. Many people use the following:
- Concrete pad
- Commercial pads
- Solid foam
You can even use carpet padding or flooring underlayment. No matter you choose, preparing your yard for your new pool is easy enough for even the least handy person to tackle in one afternoon.
How Long Do Above-Ground Pools Last?
Once you’ve made your investment in an above-ground pool, you’ll naturally want to know how long your pool will last. This can depend on a few factors, but in general here’s what you can expect. A well taken care of pool can last as long as 20 years. Fail to take care of your pool, and it may not last a day.
Nevertheless, the average life expectancy of an above-ground pool is between 7 and 15 years, while the liner itself can be expected to last between 5 and 9 years. Steel above-ground pools last a bit longer, an estimated 10–15 years.
Unfortunately you can’t expect the same lifespan from your liner, regardless if it’s a steel pool or otherwise.
Expect a shorter life span from cheap above-ground pools — about 10 years on average. Something else to keep in mind is that no matter how long your pool lasts, you may need to replace accessories and add-ons like the ladders, pumps, and filters.
So how do you know when it’s time to replace your above-ground pool? Here are a few common signs that it might be time to replace your pool, and some things to consider before buying a new one.
Dealing with Leakage
This might simply mean you need a new liner. Liners can be replaced, just be sure to remove the old one.
If you’ve replaced your liner, though, and the water continues to drain, or if you’re finding wet or mushy spots in your yard, it could be time for a new pool. You may also just be filling the pool more than usual, driving up your water bill. That’s also a sign you may have a leak.
Rusty, Sagging, or Faded Frame
If your pool is simply looking a little old and worn out, you’re certainly free to replace it for strictly aesthetic purposes. But if it’s still holding water, there’s really no need.
Discolored water or algae growth are not signs you need a new pool. Instead, it’s time to reconsider how well you’re chlorinating the pool or perhaps how often you are applying the shock treatment.
How to Care for an Above-Ground Pool in the Winter
While above-ground pools provide hours of fun during the warmer months, there inevitably will come a time when the weather turns cold. You can leave your pool up all winter, but it’s important to remove and safely store all the accessories, like ladders and the pump.
If you do choose to dismantle your pool, clean it thoroughly and let it dry completely before storing the frame, pool, liner, and accessories out of the elements.
It’s important to make sure your pool is clean (a bleach solution works well) before storage so as not to find any nasty mold or mildew surprises in the spring.
But if you do decide to leave your pool up all winter, here are a few additional pointers:
Balance Water Chemistry
Here’s the balance you should strive for (don’t forget, ppm stands for parts per million):
Calcium hardness: 180 – 220 ppm
pH: 7.2 – 7.6
Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
Shock the Pool
After balancing the water chemistry, you’ll want to add either a non-chlorine pool shock or diluted granular chlorine to the water. You’ll want about one bag or 1 pound per 10,000 gallons of water.
Add Winter Closing Chemicals
Next, you’ll want to add chemicals from a winter kit. These kits include algaecide, stain, scale preventative, and a slow-release floater and oil absorbing sponge, among other items.
This will keep your water as fresh as possible during the winter months, preventing any nasty surprises come spring.
Cover Your Pool
The last step is to cover your pool with a properly fitting pool cover to keep the water clean and free from debris like leaves all season long. Pool covers come for both round and oval-shaped above-ground pools.
What Is the Best Above-Ground Pool?
Putting all our research in one place, here’s what you need to know about the best above-ground pool. Taking home top honors as the overall best above-ground pool is Bestway Power Steel Above Ground Swimming Pool Set with Pump. You’ll pay a bit more with Bestway, but then again, you’ll have everything you need: Tritech construction, ChemConnect dispenser, fortified wall support, and a Seal & Lock assembly system.
Kids love pools, so we understand that many of you are here to find a summer activity to keep the children happy in the backyard. With this in mind, we chose the Pugmilia Inflatable Swimming Pools for Kids as the best inflatable above-ground pool for children. It’s easy to set up so you won’t keep the kids waiting, and best of all, the pool won’t break the bank.
Speaking of cost, get all the pool you need without the cost and choose Avenlur Above-Ground Swimming Pool, our choice for the best cheap above-ground pool for grownups and children alike. But just because you’re paying a little less, with Avenlur you won’t be sacrificing quality construction and durable parts.
- In The Swim Pool Winterizing and Closing Chemical Kit: Get your pool ready for winter with this winterizing and pool closing chemical kit from In The Swim.
- Flowclear AquaClean Pool Cleaning Kit: With a 9-foot pole, a vacuum, and a skimmer, you can clean the hard-to-reach places in your pool with the Flowclear Aquaclean Pool Cleaning Kit.
- POOLWHALE Portable Pool Vacuum with Brush Bag: Capture leaves and other debris with this mini jet vacuum cleaner from POOLWHALE, boasting a four section, 48-inch pole for added reach.
- Blufree Bluetooth Waterproof Speakers with Colorful Lights: Keep the tunes going next pool season with this waterproof floating speaker from Blufree, complete with hands-free calling so you won’t miss a thing while you relax in the water.
- FEEBRIA Inflatable Floating Drink Holder: Keep the drinks flowing and the snacks within reach with this FEEBRIA nine-hole inflatable drink holder that’s easy to inflate and made from durable materials.